FSANZ released an updated version of the Compendium of Microbiological Criteria for Food in March, which includes a new chapter for dairy products and consolidates requirements for microbiological testing in one document.

It replaces Dairysafe’s ‘Microbiological testing criteria 2015’ and the ‘National Guidelines – Pathogen Management (Guidelines for Dairy industry response to pathogen detections in dairy product and the processing environment)’.

Overall, not much has changed for dairy processors in terms of requirements for microbiological testing.

The consolidated new version brings together information on pathogens and indicator organisms significant to food safety, microbiological guideline criteria for Ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, and process hygiene criteria (PHC) that have been established for dairy.

There are some important items to note:

  • The process (control) hygiene criteria for liquid milk, cream, cheese, powdered infant formula have been retained from the 2018 version of the Compendium.
  • New process control criteria have been provided for ice cream and other frozen products, fermented milk products, butter and dairy blends, dairy-based dips and deserts, and bulk milk for raw cheese.
  • Testing frequencies have not changed – these were supplied to industry by Dairysafe in a Bulletin and are available from Dairysafe if needed.
  • Corrective action information is summarised from the pathogen management guidelines.
  • Guidance on environmental monitoring provides more dairy specific information and aligns more with existing guidance for the dairy industry – information from the pathogen management guidelines has been condensed.
  • Details on environmental monitoring have been updated from what was in the previous edition of the Compendium.

What’s in the new dairy section in the Compendium?

  • The six main microbiological hazards associated with dairy products.
  • Microbiological criteria and process hygiene criteria for dairy.
  • Sampling plans and testing frequency suitable for the verification of your food safety program.
  • Process hygiene criteria for indicator organisms in individual dairy product categories that identify when a control failure has occurred.
  • Microbiological specifications for bulk raw milk.
  • Process control tables and guideline microbiological and process hygiene criteria for dairy commodities.
  • Appropriate actions should the results of testing for these organisms fall outside stated levels.
  • instances where a manufacturer may want to implement a different sampling plan or suggest alternative means of verification in place of microbiological testing

What’s still critical:

  • It is important to consider holding product until test results are received, as this can mitigate the risk of having to remove product from the marketplace or supply chain. This process may not be practicable however with short shelf life products.

The Compendium is available online in the Food Safety Toolbox on Dairysafe’s website and on the FSANZ website.